Allegany Communications Sports

On Wednesday, the Heisman Trust decided to reinstate former Southern California running back Reggie Bush as the 2005 recipient of the Heisman Trophy, emblematic of the best college football player in America, which, of course, he easily was in 2005.

The decision came 14 years after Bush was stripped of his Heisman for receiving what the NCAA had determined were “impermissible extra benefits” while playing for the Trojans. The NCAA had retroactively deemed Bush ineligible for competition and the Heisman Trust went right along with it.

Given all that goes on these days in college athletics, though, and after much lobbying from former Heisman winners who stepped up for Bush’s reinstatement, the Heisman Trust considered the matter and agreed to return the trophy to Bush, as well as a replica trophy to Southern Cal, which means Bush will again be invited to all future Heisman Trophy ceremonies, starting with the 90th Heisman Trophy ceremony this fall.

Not only that, it’s a pretty fair bet that Nissan will include a storyline on his return in those cool Heisman House commercials.

It also means that since just last December, USC has gone from having six acknowledged Heisman Trophy winners to eight, given quarterback Caleb Williams was last year’s recipient and Bush now has his trophy back,.giving the Trojans more Heisman winners than any other school..

Can you name them? Sure, you can: Mike Garrett (1965), O.J. Simpson (1968), Charles White (1979), Marcus Allen (1981), Carson Palmer (2002), Matt Leinart (2004), Bush (2005) and Williams (2022).

“We are thrilled to welcome Reggie Bush back to the Heisman family in recognition of his collegiate accomplishments,” Heisman Trust president Michael Comerford said in a statement. “We considered the enormous changes in college athletics over the last several years in deciding that now is the right time to reinstate the trophy for Reggie.

“Recognizing that the compensation of student-athletes is an accepted practice and appears here to stay, these fundamental changes in college athletics led the Trust to decide that now is the right time to return the trophy to Bush.”

Everybody is happy again – the Heisman Trust is happy, Bush is happy, Southern Cal is happy, and former Heisman winners who spoke on Bush’s behalf are happy, which is good. Happy is better than sad; and good for Bush, who is one of the greatest and most popular college football players of all time and who seems to be an enormously amiable chap.

Has justice been served? I’d say so since the Heisman Trust, not in any way affiliated with the NCAA (so they’ve got that going for them; which is nice), is a private trust, which means whatever it puts down concerning the Heisman Trophy is the law of the Heisman.

On top of it all, it just feels right, so justice seems to have been served, even though an argument can be made that the rules at the time were, in fact, the rules and that Bush clearly violated them. Thus, what one must wonder, given the new and openly anti-amateurism landscape of college (network TV) athletics, is if the NCAA will begin to reinstate athletes and teams that it put the hammer down on in the past.

Not that it really matters either way, but it’s difficult to say with these jaspers, particularly since the NCAA’s standing as a ruling entity may well soon be doomed, which, at this stage of the game, likely wouldn’t break anybody’s heart, as the NCAA has done its best to present itself as one of the most miserable and disliked organizations in America.

The NIL (name, image, likeness) was essentially created by an NCAA under siege, and it was originally designed so players could get a cut of some of the dough the colleges were making on a player’s jersey, or to get some pocket change signing some autographs or doing some commercials for local businesses.

But then, just like that, the so-called good intentions of the idea went out the window, as the NIL, coupled with the transfer portal, turned into the Wild, Wild West of buying players for the purpose of putting even more money into college coffers.

Some, such as Caitlin Clark, got theirs and more, and good for them. Most, however, don’t, and, in fact, a whole lot of NCAA Power 5 schools are now scrambling to plug holes in their financial dam.

The natural instinct is to blame the athletes for chasing some of the money their schools have exploited them out of for well over a century; but the same people who created amateur athletics are the people who have profited from amateur athletics the most. Which is why, of course, it was created to begin with.

I love that Reggie Bush got his Heisman Trophy back, because even though the NCAA is not affiliated with the Heisman Trust in any way shape or form, the NCAA needs the Heisman a helluva lot more than the Heisman needs the NCAA.

And since there is a God in heaven, we will be seeing that to be very true in just a matter of time.

Mike Burke, who served as the Maryland state chairman of Heisman Trophy voters for over 30 years, writes about sports and other stuff for Allegany Communications. He began covering sports for the Prince George’s Sentinel in 1981 and joined the Cumberland Times-News sports staff in 1984, serving as sports editor for over 30 years. Contact him at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @MikeBurkeMDT